TSRI Launches Restructured Graduate Program

By Mika Ono

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) launches a restructured graduate program at its Kellogg School of Science and Technology this fall. The new program, named the TSRI Doctoral Programs in Chemical and Biological Sciences, will offer Ph.D. candidates a wide range of courses and increased flexibility in course selection.

"[This program] will take advantage of TSRI's scientific strengths and position our students to be leaders in science now and a decade from now," says Jeffery Kelly, dean of the program and vice president for academic affairs. "The new curriculum prepares students for a scientific environment that is ever-changing, fast-paced, and integrated across disciplines."

Previously, TSRI offered two largely independent graduate programs: Chemistry, and Macromolecular and Cellular Structure in Chemistry (MCSC), which were ranked sixth and ninth in the nation, respectively, by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, TSRI's graduate programs were ranked second in the specialty of organic chemistry. Graduate students who came to TSRI prior to 2003 will continue to fulfill these programs' requirements.

Beginning with the entering class, however, students will participate in the new TSRI Doctoral Programs in Chemical and Biological Sciences.

In the new program, students will select from among four curricular tracks:

• Chemistry Track: This closely aligns with the previous program in organic chemistry.

• Chemical Biology Track: This track is tailored for chemists who need preparation in molecular biology, cell biology, and biophysics.

• Biology Track: This is loosely aligned with the previous MCSC program, while enabling students to take advantage of chemistry courses.

• Biophysics Track: This will serve numerous students who want to focus on biology while being exposed to the physical sciences.

While students must declare their track upon arrival, they also have the opportunity to change tracks any time before taking their qualifying exam.

In addition, the new program raises academic standards and further promotes a well-rounded scientific education as follows:

• The qualifying exam in all tracks now consists of two five-page research proposals modeled on documents scientists are required to submit to the National Institutes of Health. The first proposal focuses on the student's thesis research and the other on another original idea.

• Eighteen credit hours of course work with a B grade or better are required to take the qualifying exam. Each of TSRI core courses is now worth three credit hours.

• Students are now required to complete at least one lab rotation before selecting a research group.

• Students must now complete a two-part course covering literature reading, writing, speech, and ethics.

• The new academic calendar follows the University of California San Diego quarter system to enable students the option of taking elective courses there.

"The new program draws on and combines the best aspects of the previous two TSRI programs," says Graduate Program Administrator Marylyn Rinaldi. "Requirements are clear and rigorous."

The review of the graduate program began about a year ago and involved input from more than 20 TSRI faculty and 170 graduate students. Student input was also sought and received in a town meeting format. Three meetings of the faculty group and four subcommittee meetings resulted in a proposal that was presented to the entire student body and faculty. The proposal for curriculum changes was endorsed by a vote of the faculty and students and approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

More information on the TSRI Doctoral Programs in Chemical and Biological Sciences at The Kellogg School of Science and Technology is available at: http://www.scripps.edu/phd.





"The new curriculum prepares students for a scientific environment that is ever-changing, fast-paced, and integrated across disciplines," says Dean Jeffery Kelly, who is also TSRI's vice president for academic affairs. Photo by Michael Balderas.